Seared and Roasted Duck Breasts with Green Peppercorn Sauce

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Duck breasts are much easier to cook than a whole duck; in fact, they are as easy as chicken breasts. The sear-and-roast method will give them crisp, golden brown skin and juicy meat. Season the duck breasts well since they will lose a lot of salt and pepper with the fat when they are seared. They peppery pan sauce is a quick reduction of the duck juices with stock, port, and wine.

NotesRoasting poultry

When chicken or other poultry is roasted, it cooks at a high temperature until its skin is crisp; then the temperature is lowered slightly to allow the flesh to cook slowly. It emerges from the oven finely textured and full of concentrated flavor.

A hot oven is essential to roasting. At a lower temperature, the bird would bake, not roast, and would not come out crisp-skinned and juicy.

The juices produced by a roasting bird give you the base for a simple pan sauce. While the meat rests for a few minutes before carving, reduce the pan juices with stock and deglaze the roasting pan.


• Place the chicken, breast-side up, over a bed of diced vegetables in a roasting pan, season, and brush with melted butter and olive oil.

• Roast in a hot oven, turning as each side becomes crisp.

• Turn breast-side up again and finish roasting at lowered heat, basting.

• Remove from the pan and let rest 5 minutes before carving.

Makes4 servings

Cooking Methodroasting


Total Timeunder 30 minutes

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cooking for a date, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Five Ingredients or LessYes



Taste and Texturecrisp, hot & spicy, juicy, meaty, rich, savory



  1. For the duck breasts:

  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. With a sharp knife, cut the flesh side of the duck breasts in a shallow crosshatch pattern. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat until the pan begins to smoke and sear the duck, fat-side down, 2 minutes. Pour off the grease and place the pan in the oven until the duck is medium-rare, 10 to 12 minutes. Turn and cook the other side 1 minute. Remove from the pan and pour off the grease. The duck breasts will retain their heat while you prepare the sauce.

  4. For the green peppercorn sauce:

  5. Place the pan the duck was roasted in over high heat and add the port and wine to the duck juices (be careful--they may ignite). Add the peppercorns and any juices that have accumulated around the cooked duck breasts and scrape the bottom of the pan, bringing up the browned bits and incorporating them into the juices. Boil for 2 minutes, then add the veal stock and boil gently 5 to 6 minutes. Swirl in the butter and season with salt and pepper.

  6. To serve:

  7. Cut each duck breast on the bias into 8 to 10 slices and arrange on individual plates. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the sauce, or to taste, over the duck and serve immediately.

  8. Variations:

  9. Veal stock makes the richest sauce, but, if necessary, substitute Duck Stock, Vegetable Stock, or Chicken Stock.

  10. If you can’t buy duck breasts:

  11. • Remove breasts from two 5-pound ducks

  12. Use the legs for:

  13. • Braised Duck Legs in Warm Duck Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts

  14. • Caramelized Onion Tarts with added braised duck

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